“The Cuckoo’s Calling”—A Book Review

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The Cuckoo’s Calling…where to begin? Another disappointing attempt at an adult novel by my favorite author in the world, J.K. Rowling. This crime mystery novel was written by Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. My guess is that after her first crap crack at adult novel writing with The Casual Vacancy, she realized not many people would by another book by her that wasn’t Harry Potter related. And truthfully, it really does pain me that I don’t like her adult books, because the Harry Potter series is my all time favorite literary work of all time.

First off, let me state that The Cuckoo’s Calling was better than The Casual Vacancy. The characters were definitely a lot more interesting, possibly because there were a lot less of them, so you could actually follow what was happening .But I believe this novel took a wrong turn with her choice to use omniscient narration. It prevented me from getting to close to the characters. I couldn’t bond with them because she always kept me at arm’s length.

So the plot…

Lula Landry is a famous model who may or may not have committed suicide at the beginning of the tale by jumping off her balcony. The story opens up with police, paparazzi, and reporters trying to get a look at the crumpled body on the snowy pavement.

Next we are introduced to a, seemingly, smart and happy young women who is newly engaged, trying to find a job in London, having just moved there to be with her fiancé. In the mean time she is taking temp jobs, which is how she ends up at the private detective’s office.

Detective Cormoran Strike is a military veteran who lost his leg on a recent tour in Afghanistan. He is basically pitiful personified, but somehow he prevents you from ever actually feeling sorry for him. He’s a proud man who holds his own, despite the fact that he recently broke up with his fiancé (that he was cohabitating with in a very nice apartment she paid for), rendering him homeless. So not only is he having to live in his office now, but he has mounting piles of debt to boot.

Enter John Bristow, Lula’s brother (by adoption). He is convinced that Lula did not kill herself and since the police want to put her death to bed, he offers to pay Detective Strike a handsome sum of money to investigate her death and find her murderer.

Well, with rising piles of debt, how can Strike refuse?

And so the story continues with Strike investigating and digging up leads, in spite of the fact that he initially believed Lula’s death to be a cut and dry suicide.

Really, the book could have been amazing. But it was SO SLOW. The writing was much too descriptive, to the point of being insanely tedious. I just couldn’t do it. If Rowling could have told this story in half the pages (and perhaps in first person or limited third person point of view) it probably would have been fabulous. However, since it is so long and descriptive, I honestly couldn’t even finish it, because it felt like nothing was happening. So I jumped to the end to see who the killer was (something I NEVER do and even consider a blasphemous act). But I just COULDN’T read 300 more pages of descriptive motions.  

All in all, I think J.K. Rowling should stick to writing children’s books. Straight up, she rocks at it. Sadly I can only give this book two out of five stars. I could stretch and give it three because the characters were interesting, but the droning on and on and on just put me off. So I’m sticking with two.

“Butter”—A Book Review/Rant

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Butter by Erin Jade Lange provided a new way to view online bullying and childhood obesity.

Butter is a big boy…and I mean BIG. I know that’s supposed to make the reader feel empathic and sad and all, but I really just couldn’t find the sympathy. Butter’s weight issues actually kind of pissed me off and got my blood boiling.

The opening scene is of him pigging out on a shit ton of junk food, and then seeing a story on the news about how airlines are going to start charging obese people for two tickets, since they take up more than just one seat. This upsets Butter, and he goes into a pouty fit and puts down the food, running up to his room to do the one thing (other than eating) that brings him joy…play his saxophone.

But in almost the next paragraph he says how he won’t keep his resolve to not eat crap food because it’ll never work and he’ll always be fat, blah blah blah. And how his mother is an enabler (and I’m not saying that she isn’t) and it’s her fault he’s so fat and his dad’s fault for ignoring him.  

“Mom’s mouth twitched in a sad smile, but she didn’t say anything. Somewhere around the time I turned eleven, she’d stopped talking to me about food or exercise or anything to do with my weight. And the bigger I grew, the more she pretended not to see it. I used to think she was embarrassed by me, but I eventually figured out she just felt guilty—like she was a bad mother for letting me get so big.”

Again, I know this kid being ginormous and not having any friends is supposed to make me feel sorry for him, but the book just infuriated me more than anything. He just gorges himself on food and whines about being fat. It literally just made me yell inside my head, “STOP EATING ENOUGH FOOD FOR 10 PEOPLE IN ONE SITTING AND GO EXERCISE! DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!”

You may think I’m a horrible person for thinking this, but seriously, self pity and laziness will get you nowhere and one of my biggest pet peeves is people making excuses for their own crappy decisions. Grow a pair, own up to your mistakes, and be proactive to change!

 And Butter didn’t even try to make any friends at school. He just hid away in the corners (well as much as a giant kid can hide).

“I was rarely picked on at school. At a whopping 423 pounds, I was just that pathetic—that pitiful. Most people couldn’t bring themselves to be cruel to me.”

And even worse, he uses his own self loathing and eating habits to punish his parents (and I’m not saying his parents are completely blame-free with his condition, but blaming them for your own crappy state is so not the way to go about it…that won’t solve anyone’s problems).

“The food didn’t taste as good without an audience. If I had to be the one to carry the weight, it was only fair that they be forced to watch.”

So after humiliating himself at school one day, Butter comes home all upset and sees that people have made a list of “most-likelys” from his school. He’s listed as “most likely to die from a heart attack” and next to the prediction is a picture of him stuffing his face in the cafeteria.

What happens next? Does he decide to prove those kids wrong and start living a healthier life by exercising and watching what he eats? NO! Of course he doesn’t…he decides he’s going to kill himself online (so everyone can see it) at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. How is he going to do this? By eating himself to death. One last meal for the fat kid.

“I couldn’t control the kids at school. I couldn’t control my parents or my weight or my life…but I could command the conversation online. I could make sure the only things people said about me in cyberspace were the things I invited them to say. And if I could control that, then that would be all that mattered.”

The website Butter created in a moment of anger goes viral around the school, and before he knows it everyone wants to talk to him, the most popular guys in school want him to sit at their table and hang out with them on the weekends. But not because they truly like Butter as a person—it’s because they are morbidly obsessed with his suicide mission. They want to discuss things like menu of everything he’s going eat for his last meal.

The sick thing is, Butter likes the attention—even if it’s for all the wrong reasons. All he ever really wanted was attention, but he goes about it in the most cowardly way. Instead of trying to win everyone over with his insanely good sax-playing skills, or his kind heartedness, or his brains, or with humor, he gets their attention with his suicide plans.

The “protagonist” (I use this term as loosely as I can) is nothing but a whiny coward. If he wouldn’t have had his panties in a bunch in the first place and hung out in the corners, like a dog with his tail between his legs, and have actually put himself out there and TRIED to make friends, he wouldn’t have had to resort to such ridiculous antics to get attention.

Some of you may think I’m a complete bitch (and I’m not denying that fact), but all the spineless bullshit just irked me. I get that high school sucks (everyone is insecure in high school and anyone who says otherwise is lying), but you put on your big girl (or boy) panties and get through it. Don’t just throw a fucking tantrum.

This book was a quick read…I got through it in a few hours, and if people making excuses for their all of their problems doesn’t completely piss you off (like it does me), then you will probably enjoy this book. It does address issues like social media bullying and depression. So even though this novel pissed me off, I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

“Gray”—A Short Story by Sarah Hebert

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Hey fellow booknerds,

Here is another one of my short stories I wrote while attending Louisiana State University that I wanted to share with you. It follows along with the Teen “tough stuff” genre, centering around the aftermath of suicide.

“By the Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead”—A Book Rant

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By the Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters just didn’t quite hit the mark. I feel like it could have been a meaningful and deep story, but the main character was too damn annoying for me to feel sorry for her.

Daelyn has been bullied at her old school and tried to take her life by drinking bleach. It didn’t work. Her parents found her and rushed her to the hospital. Now she can’t speak because her throat is still in recovery and she is starting at a new Catholic school.

When she starts this new school, Daelyn decides that she will not make any friends. She will not look at or talk to anyone…because what’s the point in trying to make friends when she plans to kill herself—and actually succeed this time.

Daelyn stumbles upon a website that starts a countdown timer for 23 days. During this time period, it essentially guides her through the steps of purging her life of nonessential things and cleansing everything so that she will be ready to end her life when the timer runs out. Every day she logs into this site and blogs about her life, and reads other blogs about people who are getting ready to commit suicide as well. It gets pretty heavy, as some bloggers talk about being raped and abused.

Then there is this kid who starts sitting with Daelyn every afternoon at the bench outside of her school, where she waits for her mother to pick her up. His name is Santana, and he absolutely will not give up, refusing to leave her alone like she asks. He even ends up getting her to relent and come over to his house one afternoon.

Daelyn resists Santana as much as she can, because it’s too late to let people into her life, right? Throughout the entire book, even as she starts directly interacting with Santana, she still logs onto the suicide site everyday and continues with her preparations to kill herself.

I’m sorry; I just could not get into this book. In my opinion it was entirely ineffective. The main character actually has parents who are trying to be there for her and she is completely stubborn and won’t let them help her. And she likes this Santana kid, but is too f*cking obsessed with her suicidal plans to let him be the friend he wants to be. So she has all of these people (who are not the people from her other school who bullied her) trying to befriend her and help her, but she is too stuck her own pathetic head and feeling sorry for herself to even try to put forth any effort at life. Thus, in my opinion the main character was just whiny and lazy, and by the end of the book, I just kept thinking to myself, “Oh my God, just do it already so I can stop reading about it.”

I feel that books such as Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Hold Still by Nina LaCour were much more affective in their delivery on the issue of teen bullying and suicide.

I give this book two out of five stars.